Are You Teaching How To Podcast Or A Podcasting MFA?

As an experienced podcaster, it's only a matter of time before you're called on to teach what you know. But what will you teach? And is it designed to make the next generation of podcasters better?

Girl looks at messy painting all over wall
Photo by Bárbara Fróes on Unsplash
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It takes a certain amount of skill to create a podcast. Any podcast. Any format. And to acquire those necessary skills, some sort of a learning process is required. Podcasting isn't a genetic trait we pass on to our offspring. So it's a rather obvious statement that every podcaster had to, at one point in time, learn how to podcast.

Ok, not the most earthshattering of revelations, I know. But I promise I'm going somewhere with this.

I've Taught Podcasting, But I'm Not A Podcasting Teacher

From time to time, I've been asked to guest lecture students in a podcasting class. Most of the time, what they learned from me about podcasting would be the only thing they'd learn about podcasting during their class. These have been university-level Marketing programs, mostly.

More recently, I've been asked to speak to a multi-week podcasting class that's part of a larger field of study, like some Journalism and Communications programs are starting to create.

And then, there are the myriad workshops, seminars, and other tightly-focused programs I've been asked to participate in over the last 17 years. Sometimes these are already podcasters looking to boost their skills. Other times it's an organization that wants all of its people to know how to record, edit, and upload a podcast. I trained a bunch of VA (Veterans Affairs) workers on that very thing a decade ago. Yeah. Weird.

I'm fascinated by these formal attempts and the people who take them. That's not in any way a slight to the people who sign up to take a podcasting course. I applaud anyone who seeks to learn a new skill however they best feel they should make said acquisition. Nor am I casting shade on any of the people who teach podcasting classes. I live with a professional curriculum developer. She taught in the public school system for many, many years. And I taught at the university level. So I understand the rigor and commitment it takes to teach.

What fascinates me is the mindset of the students who seek out education and, to somewhat to a lesser degree, how they choose to acquire that information.

Because of when I learned how to podcast—at the beginning of podcasting—everything I know about podcasting was learned on the job. Well before it was a job, actually. For those of us who started podcasting long ago, the skills we had then were the accumulation of the skills from various careers, disciplines, and interests we brought with us to podcasting. None of us wanted to be podcasters. Heck, I wanted to be an astronaut. But you don't see me on the shortlist of Mars candidates, do you?

Here we are, some two decades later, and podcasting is actually a career choice for many. Hence the proliferation of classes and workshops that formalize and/or streamline today's educational processes for students who want to become professional podcasters.

And where will the organizations that provide those classes and workshops find people to teach those classes? You and me, baby. You and me.

What kind of educational experience would you provide if you were tapped to use your skills to teach a podcasting class?

Learning To Paint, Learning To Podcast

On the wall of my studio hangs a single painting. That painting depicts a mother turtle and three of her babies crawling across the sand as they head toward the breaking surf. Never mind the fact that female turtles abandon their egg clutch after laying. This is not a biology course.

That painting isn't going to win any awards, but no one ever looks at it, scrunches up their face, and has to puzzle over it before they realize it's a turtle. I'm no artist, but the picture is undeniably exactly what it is.

I painted that scene back in 2019. And I'm fairly certain that it was the first time I've ever put brush-to-canvas since elementary school. If even then. I am not a painter by any stretch.

That painting is the result of a painting class I took. That class didn't teach me to be a painter. It taught me to paint that picture. There were other students in the same class. We wall painted the same picture. And while each picture was unqiue, each and everyone was clearly a painting of the same thing.

I didn't take that class to learn how to be a painter. I took that class because it seemed a fun way to kill a couple of hours. And beer was included in the materials fee. If you asked me to paint that picture again today, I don't think I could do it. The techniques acquired are now lost to me. Nor should you ask me to try to paint anything else. I am not a painter, even though a painting of mine hangs on the wall of my studio.

Contrast that with someone who wants to learn the art of painting. Not house painting. But the painting of things on canvases. The experience of a fine arts student is vastly different than my experience learning to paint that one specific thing. I learned no theory. I learned nothing about complimentary colors. I followed some very specific step-by-step instructions and had a painting come out the other end.

But a true arts student who wants to pursue a career as a painter learns all of those things and more. Plus, they learn various techniques and mediums, like oils, watercolors, and charcoal sketches. And because it's 2022, they also learn a variety of digital tools. Students of the art of painting will gain exposure and training in a slew of different techniques and styles and mediums. And over time, a student will likely develop an affinity to one or more styles and gravitate towards a particular style of painting that becomes their own.

These truly trained professional painters are just that: professionals with skills in many different areas. They know how to paint more than just one thing in one way.

So when you get called on to teach the next generation of podcasters, which approach will you take? Will you teach the equivalent of how to paint a single turtle-based scene, like how to make a single type of podcast? Or maybe just a single podcast episode and then turn them loose?

Or will you go deeper and wider, teaching them all the skills necessary to cover the entirety of podcasting? All of the various disciplines and skills necessary to make the wealth of content that comes from our space?

More importantly, is that something you are able to do? Or would you, too, need to go back to school to round out your own education before attempting to train others? There's a lot that we who've been at this a while don't know, simply because we didn't need to know it. And we made a lot of this up as we went along.

Welcome to the vast and complex world of podcasting, right?

I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.

Cheers!

Podcast Pontifications In Your Inbox is written by Evo Terra. He’s on a mission to make podcasting better. Allie Press proofed the copy. Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.


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